Sentence by Sentence: Creating Your Style

No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a period in the right place.—Isaac Babel In fiction and nonfiction narrative, what grabs readers’ and editors’ attention is style. In this course, we will develop our unique prose styles, with the aim of drawing readers deeply into our stories. We will write a variety of short exercises to experiment with language as sound, the use of rhetorical tropes, modes of narration (descriptive, internal, summary, and scene), and use of genres. Students will select authors to imitate in short exercises, to internalize the lessons that we learn from these authors’ stylistic choices. We will write and workshop short scenes to develop our unique prose styles, employing lessons about craft to create specific dramatic effects. We will learn from the work of masters like James Joyce, John Barth, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, and Gertrude Stein and read about developing our styles in essays by Raymond Queneau, Francine Prose, John Gardner, and others, all with special attention to tone and point of view. Additionally, students may choose an author to study, imitate, and discuss throughout the course.

Thomas McNeely
Former Jones Lecturer and Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

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Online, instructor-led
Jan 16 - Mar 22, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies